This paper explores the pedagogical potential of experiential learning within architectural education through the lens of a renovation to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Architecture Hall. As most inhabitants of Architecture Hall are students of architectural design disciplines, this renovation provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn from the professional design process due to their empiric perspective and contextual familiarity with the site. Experiential learning is defined as “learning in which the learner is directly in touch with the realities being studied.”1 However, in architectural education, “educators tend to offer students hypothetical experiments in the form of hypothetical design projects where many contextual variables are neglected.”2 It is estimated that “less than 10% of all capital projects on college and university campuses are used as learning labs.”3 This renovation serves as a case study for future campus projects to develop UNL’s experiential learning opportunities. Through a designed approach, a select group of students will be given access to project materials and the opportunity to attend design meetings and site visits. In addition to witnessing the design process, students will recognize areas they determine could be beneficial to include more holistically within architectural education. Lastly, these students are responsible for documenting and disseminating their experience and learned architectural knowledge through informal lectures to the larger student body. In this practice, students take on an active pedagogical approach in creating materials to bridge the gap between design education and practice conventions.
Lloyd Shenefelt teaches in the areas of beginning design education, design studios, and health+design for rural and remote populations. Before joining the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Architecture, Shenefelt taught architectural design studios at Auburn University and interior design studios at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Georgia State University. Shenefelt has practiced architecture for over 18 years, and his work has been recognized with awards and publications. Shenefelt practiced architecture with Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects for over nine years, where he was a Senior Project Manager and Designer. In collaboration with Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, projects he participated in have won numerous awards, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Awards, published in Architect Magazine and Log. Shenefelt was also a founding principal of DSNWRK in Atlanta, GA. Shenefelt’s research and creative work focus on beginning design pedagogy, innovative student experiential learning, and addressing rural health disparity through community-engaged teaching and learning.
Ciara Allen is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Architecture program, gaining a Bachelor of Science in Design in Architectural Studies in 2021. She is currently interning at a Kansas City firm focusing on custom single-family residential design. In the fall, she will be attending graduate school in order to pursue her M.Arch. She is interested in urbanism, design history, and the cross-relationship between architecture and other design fields.